Barry and Nanette Lewis believe St Thomas's Anglican Church is much more than bricks and mortar.
Port Macquarie's convict-built church is a sacred place of worship, a vignette of colonial history and a symbol of human hardship and of hope.
It is this shared passion for "the church on the hill" and all it represents to the people of Port Macquarie that has earned Mr and Mrs Lewis an Australia Day honour - the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the General Division.
The pair has spearheaded St Thomas's restoration, working tirelessly since 1998 to raise community awareness of the historical significance of the church in Hay St and turning to a vast network of government contacts to secure more than $1 million in restoration funds.
Their commitment to the seemingly endless task of rebuilding and restoring St Thomas's has been built on an impressive record of service to every community in which they have lived.
For more than 30 years, Mr Lewis served in local government as an alderman on Sutherland Shire, Sydney City and Ku-ring-gai Municipal councils.
When he retired to Port Macquarie 15 years ago, he found a new community to serve. He became involved in the restoration of the historic Wesleyan chapel in Horton St, joined the Hastings Council Heritage Sub-committee, and in 1998 became project director of St Thomas's Anglican Church Restoration - a position he held until 2004.
Mrs Lewis spent the 1970s and '80s as director of branches for NSW Red Cross.
She also served as an alderman on Sydney City and Ku-ring-gai councils, where she discovered the need to protect heritage buildings.
At an age when most people consider taking life easier in retirement, Mrs Lewis accepted her biggest challenge - raising money to restore Port Macquarie's iconic building, St Thomas's.
"I felt completely at home," Mrs Lewis said. "The bricks and mortar were crying out for help. Once Barry and I started work on the restoration of the church it became a full-time job for seven years," the 81-year-old said.
"I am honoured and delighted to have been awarded the OAM; something I can proudly hand down to my descendants."
Mr Lewis also paid tribute to the community for working together to save a precious piece of Australia's heritage.
"Throughout the year a cross shines brightly from St Thomas's. It is visible from miles around, lighting up the night sky with a powerful symbol of faith and hope," Mr Lewis said.
"And nowhere is the true meaning of this message better demonstrated than by the efforts of all those who have worked so hard to save this ancient and inspirational treasure."